Planning System: HELP!

Planning is EVIDENCE BASED law, coloured by local authority policies which are supported by evidence.  Evidence provided by developers in support of claims for their application has either to be accepted or debunked.  Evidence that demonstrates compliance with the NPPF, Local Plan, City Plan, Planning Brief, specific policy or whatever requirements must be robust.  It is a contest when there are objectors.  Best argument wins, in theory, just like in a court of law.
The Coalition Govt’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) swept away decades of planning legislation, in order to reduce the planning system to about 50 pages of vague and highly debatable  ‘guidance’.   What it does is ask local authorities to decide what it means.  This is not legally possible.  If a decision goes to appeal, it is planning inspectors and judges employed by the government who decide and lawyers who argue the toss. 
What local authorities provide is a Local Plan – a set of locally decided planning policies.  What is provided below is a set of links to help you with planning applications if you are minded to do more than comment on parking and traffic and seriously wish to engage in order to get a result.
When an application is worked on, planning officers have to use both govt policy and local policy documentation along with input from official consultees and public consultees to establish what’s what and who is right and who is wrong and in the end whether an application does or does pass muster to be either granted by him/her under delegated powers or sent to the Planning Committee for decision, with a recommendation to either grant or refuse. 
Please note that to get an application determined by councillors on the Planning Committee you have to ask your ward cllr to request it or there have to be more than 5 objections to the application.  Petitions count as a single objection (one argument which a number of people agree with!).
1.  Informative articles – http://planningblog.planningresource.co.uk/2012/04/23/dclgs-localism-doctrine-leaves-planners-picking-up-the-nppf-pieces/
 2.  The NPPF
3.  The Local Plan (you quote individual policies in responses)
Please note that the NPPF is central government legislation and in order of precedence below it come:  The Local Plan/City Plan.  Planning Briefs can be raised, as and when necessary, for specific areas about to be developed or when special considerations are needed to inform developers of issues that they will have to address (like badgers, for instance) which would not normally be found in the Local Plan/City Plan – too specific.  Character Statements, Supplementary Planning Guidance, Supplementary Planning Documents, or Notes are all produced  which developers will be asked to comply with.  SPG 15 is an example.  It was raised when BHCC wanted to have and to formalise a tall building strategy to say where and how many would be allowable. 
Worth being aware of all of them or looking at them to see how the system works just to get an idea of the work planning officers will be doing when judging planning applications.  Members of the public rarely make use of these tools but they could make responses more valuable by making an argument that reflects one of the policies and then quoting it.  State the ways in which the application either complies or fails to comply with the quoted policy.  You will find all these subsidiary documents online on the council website Brighton & Hove City Council